First Olympic women’s ski jump champion
Carina Vogt has the distinction of being the first woman to win an Olympic ski jumping gold medal, a feat she achieved at Sochi 2014 somewhat to her own surprise. The German proved it was no fluke, however, by then claiming back-to-back individual and mixed normal hill world titles in 2015 and 2017, though she was unable to retain her Olympic crown at PyeongChang 2018, where she finished fifth in a competition won by Norway’s Maren Lundby.
Learning her trade
Hailing from Schwäbisch Gmünd in Baden-Wurtemberg, Vogt made her international ski jumping debut aged just 12 in an FIS event in Meinerzhagen (GER) in August 2004. Two years later, she made her first appearance in the Continental Cup - the top ladies’ international competition prior to the introduction of the FIS World Cup -and finished a creditable fourth in 2007, fifth in 2010 and eighth at the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in 2011.
In April 2011, the IOC Executive Board added women’s ski jumping to the programme for Sochi 2014 and a year later the sport got another huge boost when the International Ski Federation launched the Ski Jumping World Cup, providing male and female athletes with a new platform. Vogt was a regular on the World Cup podium, racking up four second places and four thirds, but found victory elusive. In Sochi, that would change.
A historic victory
The inaugural Olympic women’s ski jumping competition took place on the HS106 hill in Rosa Khutor on 11 February 2014, and Vogt marked the occasion by flying out to 103m with her first jump to take the lead. Holding her nerve on her second, the German jumped 97.5m for a combined total of 247.4 points - just enough for her to win a wholly unexpected gold from Austrian veteran Daniela Iraschko-Stolz and France’s Coline Mattel, while pre-competition favourite Sara Takanashi came in fourth.
Lost for words
A tearful Vogt could barely contain herself when she looked up to see her name atop the leaderboard. “I’m lost for words,” she said at the time. “I wouldn’t have dreamt this was possible three years ago. I’ve never won a World Cup event and now I’m the first Olympic women’s ski jump champion. It’s incredible.”
Reflecting on her shock triumph the following day, she added: “I stayed focused and made sure I didn’t get distracted. Getting both my jumps right is just crazy.” Having etched her name in the history of the Games and her sport, Vogt, a policewoman by day, was intent on building on her stunning achievement.
World cup wins
She followed up by landing her first World Cup win on the HS100 hill in Zaō (JAP) in January 2015, with a second coming her way just 12 days later in Hinzenbach (AUT). While she has since failed to add to those two victories on the World Cup scene, her recent performances at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships have been nothing short of flawless.
Rising to the occasion
By the time she headed to PyeongChang 2018, Vogt was a four-time world champion, with the first two of those crowns coming in Falun (SWE) in February 2015. The German began by taking gold in the individual normal hill, a medal that Iraschko-Stolz looked to have in her grasp when she scored 122.9 points with her opening leap of 92.5m, with Vogt over three points back, ahead of Japan’s Yuki Ito.
Showing steely resolve and great technique, the German jumper flew out to 92m on her second jump, giving her a total of 236.9 points, 1.8 ahead of Ito in second, with Iraschko-Stolz eventually finishing third. ”After the first jump I didn’t really expect to win here,” said the new world champion. “It’s really incredible on top of everything else that has happened to me in the last year. I’m so happy.”
There was yet more joy for Vogt two days later when she joined forces with compatriots Richard Freitag, Katharina Althaus and Severin Freund to help Germany win the mixed normal hill title from Norway and Japan.
History repeats itself
Vogt retained both titles in Lahti, Finland, two years later. After impressing in training for the individual competition, she landed 98.5m with her first jump to lie third at the halfway stage behind Takanashi and Norway’s Maren Lundby. In jumping three metres further with her second attempt, she totalled 254.6 to take the gold again, with the Japanese duo of Ito and Takanashi taking the other medals.
Linking up 48 hours later with Markus Eisenbichler, Svenja Wuerth and Andreas Wellinger as Germany’s only reigning world champion, Vogt helped her country retain the team title ahead of Austria and Japan. In the process, she became women’s ski jumping’s one and only four-time world champion.
Disappointment in Pyeongchang
When the German came to defend her Olympic individual normal hill title at PyeongChang 2018, she went out to 97m with her first jump. That left her no higher than sixth, some way behind the front three, who all cleared 103m. Though her second jump of 101.5m was a considerable improvement, she climbed just one place to finish out of the medals.
“I can be satisfied with my performance because I showed exactly what I’ve been working towards. I needed a bit of luck if I was going to do any better than I did,” said Vogt after seeing Lundby succeed her as Olympic champion, with her compatriots Althaus and Takanashi taking silver and bronze respectively.
“The top three in the World Cup standings are on the podium, and in the same order, which says it all,” continued Vogt. “They’ve all been fantastic throughout the season and they deserve their medals.”
At the age of 26, Vogt is ready to continue her pursuit for excellence - her sights set on the 2019 World Championships in Seefeld (AUT), more World Cup success, and a possible return to the Olympic stage at Beijing 2022.